Media pundits, political theorists, and armchair philosophers have compared President-elect Donald Trump to Hitler since the beginning of the election cycle. The comparison began with Trump’s xenophobic, racist and misogynistic rhetoric, was illustrated at his campaign rallies, which had the same type of sound and fury as Hitler’s Nurenberg rally, and continued when Trump won the election and appointed Stephen Bannon, the former head of the far-right propaganda outlet Breitbart News, as his chief strategist.
In Mountain View Highschool in California, however, when 40-year teaching veteran Frank Navarro taught his students about the similarities between the rise of Trump and German dictator Adolph Hitler, he was suspended.
The parents of Navarro’s students complained that he was teaching a “one-sided version of history,” and that it was disrespectful to Trump. Jeff Harding, the superintendent at Mountain View Highschool downplayed the event, saying a heightened emotional environment and election fatigue played a role in the suspension. “It’s a challenge to maintain a line in the classroom,” said Harding.
While Navarro is expected to be reinstated in the classroom, he has no plans to soften his rhetoric on Donald Trump. Navarro has won numerous awards for his research on the Holocaust, and he knows that silence is not only a disservice to his students, but that staying silent in the face of bigotry and racism helps sow the seeds fascism. Free speech is the basis of a democratic republic, and it’s the first thing that should be taught at school.